Biotech dispute

Published: Sunday 15 November 1992

US President George Bush's refusal to sign the biodiversity treaty has failed to please those whom he claims to be protecting: the biotech community. Although Genentech chief executive officer G Kirk Raab wrote to Bush praising him for his "courageous stand (in) rejecting an unwise convention", his employees think otherwise. About 70 of them under the leadership of scientist Anthony Pelletier also wrote to Bush, but they branded his refusal to sign "shortsighted" and added: "We hold a different view than Mr Raab's letter to you."

Raab hit back saying Genentech would have applauded ratification of the convention in its entirety had it been worded in a way that did not have the opposite effect than the convention's intent. However, the explanation has left his employees unamused. What did, instead, is Raab's remark: "Diversity of opinion is just as important as biodiversity."

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